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H.R. 4401 (116th): Restore the Fairness Doctrine Act of 2019

The text of the bill below is as of Sep 19, 2019 (Introduced). The bill was not enacted into law.

Summary of this bill

Should a 1940s-to-1980s rule mandating more balanced media be reinstituted?


Beginning in the earliest years of television, from 1949 to 1987, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) required American television and radio broadcasters to present both sides — or all sides — of any political or social issue. It came to be nicknamed the Fairness Doctrine.

The Reagan-era FCC eliminated this rule, which was never reinstituted in subsequent decades under either party. Supporters of the rule’s elimination argued it helped the First Amendment and free speech, by eliminating forced speech or advocacy towards all sides — including sides a station’s ownership or management may have disagreed with.

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1st Session

H. R. 4401


September 19, 2019

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce


To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to reinstate the obligation of broadcast licensees to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance (commonly known as the Fairness Doctrine).


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Restore the Fairness Doctrine Act of 2019.


Fairness doctrine

Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 315) is amended—


by redesignating subsections (a) through (e) as subsections (b) through (f), respectively; and


by inserting before subsection (b), as so redesignated, the following:


Public interest obligation To cover publicly important issues

A broadcast licensee shall afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance. The enforcement and application of the requirement imposed by this subsection shall be consistent with the rules and policies of the Commission in effect on January 1, 1987, including sections 73.1920 and 73.1930 (relating to personal attacks and political editorials, respectively) of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations (as in effect on such date).